Nick Dunlap may be the best amateur in the world right now, even if his ranking doesn’t show it.
He did beat Gordon Sargent, who’s ranked No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, in the Round of 64. Dunlap is ninth, but his play resembles more of someone who’s the best of the best.
Dunlap, a 19-year-old rising sophomore from Alabama, beat fellow sophomore Parker Bell 3 and 2 on Saturday, overcoming some early putting woes and taking over near the turn. Dunlap won the 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur, and if he were to win Sunday, would be only the second male amateur to win a U.S. Junior and U.S. Amateur.
The other? Tiger Woods.
“I was pretty determined today,” Dunlap said. “I was like, I’m only out here for four hours, let’s give it all I’ve got for four hours.”
Stepping on the eighth tee, Dunlap found himself 1 down, but he threw his shot on the par 3 tight. After missing a par putt on the fifth hole to halve, it seemed as if Dunlap’s quarterfinal putting woes carried over to Saturday’s semifinal match.
However, his fortunes turned on the eighth. He drilled the birdie putt, stepping it in. He seemingly didn’t miss the rest of the day.
“It was nice to see one go in,” Dunlap said. “I felt the momentum switch a little bit. I was able to kind of put some heat on him.”
Dating to the AJGA’s Polo Golf Junior Classic in July 2021, Dunlap is now 29-2 in match play, including 6-0 at the U.S. Junior, 5-0 at the North & South Amateur earlier this summer and now 5-0 this week at Cherry Hills.
Dunlap took the lead for good on the par-4 ninth, making par while Bell’s par attempt slid past the hole. He rolled in a long birdie putt on the par-3 12th to take a 2-up lead. Then on the par-3 15th, another par led to him being 3 up with three to play.
Every putt Dunlap needed to make to stay ahead Saturday afternoon, he did. Now, he’s on the verge of history.
“I’m a fighter. I don’t give up,” Dunlap said. “No matter what the situation is, no matter what’s thrown at me, I see it as a challenge. I just love the moment, to…